Nova Scotia NDP says more long-term care beds would provide savings

Click to play video: 'N.S. government facing criticism of lack of seniors care in new budget' N.S. government facing criticism of lack of seniors care in new budget
WATCH: Although healthcare was identified by Nova Scotia as a pillar in this year's budget, the government is still facing criticism over what it isn't doing for seniors in the province. Jeremy Keefe reports – Mar 21, 2018

Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill says the Liberal government’s refusal to build new nursing homes has cost the province $750 million in savings over the last five years.

During the legislature’s question period Wednesday, Burrill was critical of the fact there was no money in the recently tabled provincial budget for new nursing home beds.

Citing the province’s auditor general and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the NDP says keeping a patient in a hospital bed costs about $1,300 a day, while the cost is only $250 a day for a nursing home bed.

“How can the premier justify not opening a single nursing home bed in this budget when his failure to invest in long-term care has cost our province over this period just short of $1 billion?”

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McNeil said his government had reduced the long-term care wait-list by over 50 per cent through its emphasis on home-care supports.

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“People in this province want to be at home being cared for by their loved one as long as they absolutely can,” said McNeil.

The premier then accused Burrill of “cherry picking” his numbers, saying some of the figures included people in palliative care and those who are waiting to transition to a nursing home.

“These are not my numbers, they are not NDP numbers, they are the numbers of the Canadian Institute for Health Information,” Burrill replied.

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Outside the house, Burrill told reporters he believes the Liberals have a “public policy blind spot” when it comes to long-term care.

“When you rely on doing it this way not only do you plug up our hospitals and emergency rooms, it is also incredibly expensive,” he said.

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But McNeil said the most cost-effective approach is to provide care for people in their homes even though the current long-term care wait-list still sits at around 1,200 people.

“We need to continue to work with them,” he said. “That’s why we’ve broadened the caregivers allowance.”

The province recently announced it would expand its home-care benefits program to include 600 more people providing care for loved ones, although it said the amount offered would remain at $400 a month. There are also plans to further expand the program in 2019.

McNeil said if at some point the government determines the need for more long-term care beds it will act.

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